Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Newdow Sues Again To Get "In God We Trust" Off Money-- This Time Using RFRA

Activist Michael Newdow is trying once again to get the motto "In God We Trust" removed from the nation's coins and currency.  Representing some 41 plaintiffs including the Northern Ohio Freethought Society, Newdow and his co-counsel this week filed an elaborate 112-page complaint in an Ohio federal district court.  The complaint (full text) in New Doe Child #1 v. Congress of the United States of America, (ND OH, filed 1/11/2016) traces in almost law-review style (and with 362 footnotes) the history of "In God We Trust" on coinage and currency. In addition to 1st Amendment free exercise, establishment clause and compelled speech claims, the suit also relies on RFRA, contending in part:
By placing “In G-d We Trust” on the nation’s coins and currency bills, Defendants have substantially burdened Plaintiffs in the exercise of their Atheistic (and similar) beliefs by requiring them – as the price to pay for using the nation’s coins and currency bills – to personally bear a religious message that is the antithesis of what they consider to be religious truth.
As to one plaintiff-- Adam Clayman-- who is not an atheist, the complaint alleges that he believes:
participation in any activity that ultimately leads to the superfluous printing of G-d’s name on secular documents or to the destruction of G-d’s printed name is sinful. Thus, aware that – due to the acts being challenged in this case – G-d’s printed name on the nation’s money will ultimately be destroyed, Plaintiff Clayman has to choose between engaging in sin or not using the nation’s coins and currency bills.
The Blaze and Cleveland Plain Dealer report on the lawsuit. (See prior related posting.)